So probably my favourite part of online dating is reading all the profiles. I do a lot of proof reading in my work life and I’m super nosy, so this kind of thing makes my happy clock tick. I get to peak under the lid of other people’s lives while mentally rewriting all the badly phrased sentences – it’s heady stuff, let me tell you. (On a side note, am I the only person in Scotland that doesn’t do extreme sports? If you don’t have a picture of yourself ski-gliding off a cliff with a walking stick in one hand and a bike in the other, you apparently aren’t living…)
I reckon seeing all the different ways people use to present themselves to potential mates is a great window into humanity as a species. Some do it brilliantly. They inexplicably manage to be funny, charming, witty and not remotely like a horse in a man costume, as Bernard Black would say. (Suffice to say, I’m very much at the horsey end of this particular spectrum.) Others…not so much. They are the ones on the opposite end – the creeps, the cads and the people for whom the line of acceptable social interplay is but a dot in their metaphorical rear-view mirror. I may or may not have waxed lyrical about such specimens in previous blog posts.
But my actual favourite part lands squarely in between these two poles. Right in the middle of the horse in a man suit scale of dating etiquette lies the land of inexplicable statements. A recent chat with a friend brought out some of the best ones that we’ve each come across on dating sites. Ranging from the run-of-the-mill to the downright spurious, they include such gems as:
‘I have a great sense of humour.’ (NB. This goes hand in hand with other generic statements, such as ‘I’m up for a laugh’.) We all like to write our own reviews but it’s not like you’re going to say ‘I have no sense of humour because I hate fun and I want all happiness to disappear from the world,’ are you? (Though that is a profile I would very much enjoy.)
‘I like nights out and nights in.’ What does that mean? It is literally not possible to be any more general about your likes and dislikes. In terms of unhelpful information about your personality, this one is at the top of the tree.
‘I love going to the gym.’ Let’s be real, here. Who actually loves going to the gym? It is a hellscape where dreams go to die.
‘I hate racism/genocide/insert terrible thing here.’ Er…good. Keep it up.
‘I want a partner in crime.’ Do you though? Because I’m pretty sure that if someone showed up to your date with a van, a floor plan and a pistol, you’d feel very differently about this statement.
‘I’m a normal person.’ Me thinks you doth protest too much. And anyway, don’t they say normal is relative?
Don’t get me wrong – writing a dating profile is hard. And soooooo boring. You have to try and come up with new and different ways of describing the same thing as everyone else and the ‘competition’ is staggering. You want to be fresh and funny and attractive but venture too far one way and you’re trying too hard; too far the other and you disappear. Go far enough in either direction and you become the type that people cross the street to avoid. On top of all of this is the fact that creating said profile – slapping everything on the table straight away – isn’t a particularly natural state of affairs. I don’t know about you, but when I start dating someone, I spend the first month of the relationship pretending that I’m a totally together human who doesn’t regularly eat cold beans from a can for dinner and isn’t carrying a murderous hatred of people who don’t push the green man button at traffic lights. All that said, however, a part of me would be sad to see this middle ground go.
So instead, let’s find a middle ground for this middle ground! By all means, continue using generic statements that don’t really make sense or tell people anything about you, but maybe mix it up a bit. How about something like:
‘I’m looking for a partner in crime, but only white collar – I draw the line at weaponry.’
‘I like nights out and nights in but I can’t stand either in the morning.’
Oh, and just so we’re clear: when you do meet and successfully woo your other half using my fool-proof instructions for dating profiles, I fully expect a wedding invite.